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Friday, November 16, 2007

A Report From Last Night’s Skatepark Meeting

posted by on November 16 at 11:03 AM

Once again, last night’s Seattle Center skatepark meeting proved that no one wants a skatepark at 2nd and Thomas. A crowd of about 40 skaters, parents and members of the Seattle Center business community crowded into one of the conference rooms on the top floor of the Center House to express their dissent over the City Council’s push to replace the Seattle Center Pavilions with a skatepark. The biggest surprise of last night’s meeting had to be that both skaters and Seattle Center businesses seem to be on the same page.

The meeting started off with Center staff rifling off the numbers and details about the cost factors that lead to a reduction in size of the project (who knew it costs $5,000 just to relocate an ATM?). According to the Center’s numbers, 41-48% of the cost of the $2.9 million skatepark is attributable demolition costs.

The loss of either of the Pavilions—used by Bumbershoot, Folklife, the Children’s Festival and apparently as a homeless shelter—would require relocating events to the Bagley Wright Theater, Memorial Stadium, EMP or the Exhibition Center. The Center admitted that the move would have a fiscal impact on the events—$80,000 annually if Pavilion A is removed—which clearly miffed festival organizers.

During the public comment period, reps from the Italian Festival, the Bite of Seattle and the Japanese Cultural Festival all spoke to the geographical and financial hardships they’d likely face with the removal of Pavilion A, and were quick to suggest other sites on the Pavilion’s campus. Yutaka Sasaki, of the Japanese Cultural Festival, suggested the Center “give [the skaters] Mercer Arena,” he said, to much laughter and applause. Remove the roof, it’s got a deep pit, stairs and handrails.”

While Center businesses and festival organizers are clearly unhappy with the current plan, their ire was directed solely at the City Council and decision-makers at the Center.

John Ross, a Folklife volunteer for the last 34 years, decried the timing of the meeting—after Council had already declared that SeaSk8 would replace the Pavilion—
and chastised the Center for treating skaters like second-class citizens. "God forbid the [tourists or] students at the ballet school ever hang out with the skateboarders," he said.

A string of skateboarders, and their parents, spoke about the long, uphill battle they've been fighting to get a a replacement site for SeaSk8—which was torn down last January—and they all seemed to echo the same sentiment: we'll take what we can get.

Skate Park Advisory Committee (SPAC) Chair Ryan Barth addressed the complicated and totally maddening process SPAC's been involved in over the last year. "We're not here to pretend some people aren't going to be displaced," Barth said. "But we don't have anywhere else to go." Barth reiterated that he'd been told by Councilmembers that the Pavilion site "was the site," and that further negotiations weren't likely to happen. After the meeting, Barth told me that "people are burned out on the process. We're capitulating to [this] site."

The Pavilion site is going through the environmental review process, which should be finished by December 6th. If things keep moving forward, the Pavilion would close in September 2008 and a new skatepark would open in the spring of 2009

No one from City Council, the Mayor's office, or the Century 21 Committee attended last night's meeting.

RSS icon Comments


This is a good example of why we need city council districts. I can guarantee you that if we had districts, at least one councilmember would've been there: the one whose district included the Seattle Center.

Posted by libbertine | November 16, 2007 11:16 AM

You all were pumping Tim Burgess to the max - he did not show? Oh, how gross. Better pin him to the wall, you need his leadership, or so they say.

Posted by Jackie | November 16, 2007 11:44 AM
Posted by sanjose skater | November 16, 2007 11:44 AM

can't they take out some of those carnie games on put the park there?

Posted by infrequent | November 16, 2007 11:47 AM

@4: Exactly. It's time for the sad, sad 'Fun Forest' to go.

Posted by Greg | November 16, 2007 11:52 AM

It's all about what the Gates Foundation and the Allen Foundation told the city to do.

Oh, like I'm not supposed to admit the two enormous elephants in the room are keeping the skate park from being located where the desolate Fun Forest is?

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 12:04 PM

just for the record, will, i'm okay if they take out the EMP to make room for the skate park.

though, the sky church is pretty cool. maybe leave that part. i'm sure it won't effect the aesthetic quality of the building.

Posted by infrequent | November 16, 2007 12:27 PM

put the skate park ON TOP of the nw rooms.

eminently sensible.

Posted by max solomon | November 16, 2007 12:45 PM

I'm okay with taking out the EMP, so long as they put back Flight to Mars.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 16, 2007 1:53 PM

I liked the Mercer Arena idea, but there's nothing the Mercer Arena could offer that we couldn't accomplish by putting the skatepark in EMP.

Posted by Kate Martin | November 19, 2007 9:18 AM

On average, how often did you skate at the old skate park?
Now that its gone, where do you skate? Have you ever gotten in trouble for skating in the "wrong" place?

Posted by Nicole V. | November 19, 2007 11:06 PM

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